Fun with Bookgasm (and Kristin Chenoweth’s breasts)

kristin chenoweth nude nakedFor once, this monthly roundup of Internet search terms that bring people to BOOKGASM isn’t all that crazy (though I’m still scratching my noggin over “characters such as gwen and coral on the play away”). I mean, you’ve got your usual Sudoku, some leftover James Frey fallout, an alarming amount of LOST devotees and – literally and figuratively – Uschi Digard is still hanging in there. Picking up steam: fans of Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, 24 tie-ins and one Tony winner’s impressive rack.

• scary movies
• 24 declassified
• dame agatha abroad
• characters such as gwen and coral on the play away
• skyscraper sudoku
• james frye book lied
• kristin chenoweth naked
• douglas preston the book of the dead
• abraham van helsing
• egging zach johnson
• smoking gun james frye
• the loveliest dead
• myth hunters christopher golden
• richard hawke
• 100 best novels
• short history of myth armstrong
• the reading level of 24 declassified: operation hell gate
• skincyclopedia
• koontz the husband
• read 9 1/2 weeks novel online
• bad twin lost
• bad twin gary troup
• uschi digard
• old mans war
• the bad twin book
• 24 declassified veto power book review
• mimi rogers breasts
• john twelve hawkes
• a million little pieces lie
• evangeline lilly breasts
• grindhouse tarantino
• james frye oprah
• sexy movies
• examples of bad writing
• the book of the dead douglas preston and lincoln child
• 24 declassified ebook
• russ meyer film covers
• emanuelle in america
• ray garton windows
• last templar jesus
• survivor off camera sex
• manhunt: the 12 day chase for lincolns killer
• zombie sightings
• jud ray fbi
• allen kupfer
• john waters living dangerously dvd buy
• lost tie in novels
• time novel list
• survivor j f gonzalez
• mimi rogers sex
• kitty and the midnight hour
• juggin joe
• joe gannascoli
• mystery and max allan collins and q&a
• sexy crime novels
• woken furies review
• best american nonrequired reading
• manhunt swanson movie website
• movie scifi channel jesus mary daughter knights templar
• american gothic tales poe
• dirigibles in stories

Contents for ’05 HORROR: BEST OF revealed

horror best of 2005 reviewThough ibooks’ bankruptcy has likely dashed all hopes for it to appear, John Gregory Betancourt’s HORROR: THE BEST OF 2005 would have contained the following stories, according to VanderWorld:

• Joe Lansdale, “Shadows, Kith and Kin” (OUTSIDERS)
• Jack Cady, “The Souls of Drowning Mountain” (TAVERNS OF THE DEAD)
• Holly Phillips, “The Other Grace” (IN THE PALACE OF REPOSE)
• Nicholas Royle, “Sitting Tennant” (POE’S PROGENY)
• Joe Hill, “The Cape” (20th CENTURY GHOSTS)
• Caitlin Kiernan, “La Peau Verte,” (TO CHARLES FORT, WITH LOVE)
• M. Rickert, “A Little Madness Goes a Long Way” (F&SF)
• Richard Bowes, “There’s a Hole in the City” (SCIFICTION)
• Barbara Roden, “Northwest Passage” (ACQUAINTED WITH THE NIGHT)
• Clive Barker, “Haeckel’s Tale” (DARK DELICACIES)
• Laird Barron, “Proboscis” (F&SF)
• Jeff VanderMeer, “Lost” (TEL)
• Ramsey Campbell, “Unblinking” (LOST ON THE DARKSIDE)
• Nick Mamatas, “Real People Slash” (SON AND FOE)
• Michael Marshall Smith, “Fair Exchange” (WEIRD SHADOWS OVER INNSMOUTH)
• Simon Owens, “This Hand, Waving” (CHIZINE)
• David Niall Wilson, “The Call of Farther Shores” (LOST ON THE DARKSIDE)

Damn. I would’ve loved to have read that. Just as I also was looking forward to two other Betancourt anthologies ibooks was slated to release: THE ULTIMATE UNDEAD and HORRORSCAPE 2: NEW MASTERPIECES OF HORROR.

Swamp Thing: Healing the Breach

swamp thing healing the breach reviewOf the three trade paperbacks thus far collecting the current SWAMP THING run from Vertigo, SWAMP THING: HEALING THE BREACH is the best yet, even if it’s the toughest to describe.

Compiling issues 15-20, this BREACH baby begins with Swamp Thing still without his “powers,” so to speak, having earlier rejected them and the associated earthly responsibilities. Alec Holland’s mind is still floating out there in the netherworld, anxious to rejoin his old, root-strewn body, so he possesses the ailing mind of an old college professor to try to make a connection with Swampy. See, I told you it was difficult to describe, though it makes enough sense as you read. This arc comprises four of the six issues here, though the other two are related.

One of those is the most surreal SWAMP THING story yet, with a childhood Alec interacting with bizarre cartoon characters that pop out of his TV and show him glimpses of his future. But the final one is the real capper, with Swampy retreating so much that he becomes miniscule, fighting off spiders and ants on his way toward microscopic. It’s drawn by the legendary Richard Corben (recently of BIGFOOT), and his unique style is well-suited for this particular comic’s universe.

If you enjoyed the Lovecraftian direction of the previous volume, LOVE IN VAIN, you’ll be just as pleased with HEALING THE BREACH. Joshua Dysart’s storytelling could use a little tightening up to aid in clarity, but the art is all up to snuff, and you can just tell this title wants desperately to be the new SANDMAN. In terms of way-out weirdness at least, it’s already there. –Rod Lott

Buy it at Amazon.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

freakonomics reviewIf I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t get a degree in journalism. Instead, I’d get one in FREAKONOMICS.

One of last year’s bestselling books, “rogue economist” Steven D. Levitt and New York Times Magazine reporter Stephen J. Dubner discuss how economics can be used not to find the answers to boring issues of supply and demand, unemployment and interest rates, but burning questions like “Does naming your child Shaniqua limit her job prospects for the future?”

Refreshingly non-politicized and ultimately fascinating, Levitt and Dubner apply basic Economics 101 rules to explain how you can tell if a teacher fudges standardized test scores and if sumo wrestlers are throwing matches. The stories behind why crack dealers still live at home with their moms and how one man used Superman to help bring down the Ku Klux Klan are as compelling as any fiction. The book grabs you from the get-go, offering the real reason for our nation’s declining crime rate. Neither gun control nor the death penatly, Levitt’s solution is one I won’t spoil for you.

I’m sure pieces of FREAKONOMICS have proven and will prove controversial, but it’s hard to argue when the approach is so common-sense and not influenced by monetary incentives. Besides, who else is using economics to study the business of bagels in the office or alleged racism on the game show THE WEAKEST LINK? No one, making it easy to see why FREAKONOMICS is so darned popular. It’s also so darned fun. –Rod Lott

Buy it at Amazon.

BOOK WHORE >> 2.28.06

masterpieces mystery unknown reviewYou know how hard it is to write a different intro to these new-release roundups every seven days? Just curious.

• From Laurell K. Hamilton comes MICAH, the 12th novel featuring her Anita Blake, vampire hunter character.

GOOD OMENS was the first collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Released in 1990, it’s proved so popular over the years in mass-market paperback form that it’s being reissued in a hardcover edition.

MASTERPIECES OF MYSTERY AND THE UNKNOWN collects 28 classic Agatha Christie short stories, including “Three Blind Mice,” “Witness for the Prosecution” and all she penned in the supernatural suspense genre. Love the Saul Bass-esque cover.

30 DAYS OF NIGHT: RUMORS OF THE UNDEAD is the first of a series of original novels based upon Steve Niles’ acclaimed comics series about a town overrun by vampirism. This marks Niles’ novel debut (here co-writing with Jeff Mariotte), and based upon his terrific short story in the recent DARK DELICACIES anthology, he should be up to the task.

R.I.P. Octavia E. Butler

octavia butler fledgling reviewScience fiction author Octavia E. Butler – most recently of the vampire novel FLEDGLING – has died at the age of 58 after falling outside her home.

Butler, who debuted in 1979 with the time-travel parable KINDRED, is credited as the first African-American female writer to receive national prominence in the sci-fi genre.

For more information, consult the obituary at the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

The Book of Skulls

book of skulls reviewFour college roommates on the East Coast embark on a road trip to Arizona in search of immortality in THE BOOK OF SKULLS, Robert Silverberg’s 1972 novel now back in print thanks to a new Del Rey trade – something it deserved just for the cool cover alone.

From a text in their university library, the quartet of students in question – a Jew, a rich kid, a farm boy, a homosexual – learns of an ancient monestary in the middle of the desert known as the Brotherhood of the Skulls. Eternal life on this earth is promised by the Brotherhood, but at a price: One must commit suicide and one must be murdered in order for the other two to attain it. Strangely (but thankfully for you, the reader), all four seem to buy into the idea, so they make their way west, philosophizing, bickering and screwing each other (metaphorically) along the way.

SKULLS is told from each of the kids’ viewpoints, though consecutively instead of in RASHOMON fashion. Initially, I was afraid this approach would be confusing, but their personalities really stand out, if not their voices. My main problem lies with the long paragraphs that sometimes stretch out over three pages or when the narrative lapses into travelogue mode. Given that it’s more than 30 years old, the book shows its age (witness the gratuitous use of the word “groovy” or the name-checking of Peter Fonda), but its themes are timeless, with Silverberg playing the angst cards just as much as the spiritual, the horrific and, yes, the sexual (sometimes explicitly so).

This marks my introduction to Silverberg in the long form, and he’s as good here as I’ve found him to be in a fraction of the page count. His work is tight, intriguing and mostly unpredictable. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve ever read before and refuses to be pegged into one genre; for instance, the horror comes not out of a supernatural event, but the way the young men treat one another. It doesn’t matter where it belongs when it’s very good. Silverberg’s new afterword puts it in a proper historical perspective, not that you’ll need it to recognize the quality. –Rod Lott

Buy it at Amazon.

Bradbury, Asimov among TV’s MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION

repent harlequin said ticktockman reviewThe makers behind Showtime’s well-received MASTERS OF HORROR anthology miniseries have announced plans to produce 13 episodes of MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION for ABC, to air perhaps as early as this summer. Unlike HORROR, the SCIENCE FICTION show plans to adapt classic stories of the genre.

Among the fiction being discussed for adaptation are Harlan Ellison’s “The Discarded” and “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” Isaac Asimov’s “The Last Question,” Ray Bradbury’s “Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed,” as well as works by Robert A. Heinlein and Stanislaw Lem. (Via Son of Michael May)

The Elastic Book of Numbers

elastic book of numbers reviewThough its cover may be among the ugliest I’ve ever seen, THE ELASTIC BOOK OF NUMBERS is one of the most original anthologies I’ve ever read. Edited by Allen Ashley, this small-press collection is comprised of 21 stories examining our relationship with (and dependence on) numbers.

If it sounds like a math assignment, don’t be startled. This is speculative fiction at its finest, with an underlying sense of paranoia a la the film PI. For instance, the married couple in John Lucas’ “Approaching Zero” seem mysteriously compelled to purge their household of belongings, while a computer nerd finds his life meaningless when he wins the lottery via an all-zero ticket in Joel Lane’s “Where None Is the Number.” Eric Shapiro’s “3:21” deals with a man who believes he can resurrect his dead wife by focusing on the same number over and over; similarly, E. Sedia’s “Every Eight and Eleven” finds a man obsessed with two numbers attempting to use it to his monetary advantage.

In more horror-oriented entries, Donald Pulker’s enigmatic “Dial 1-800-2-To-Live” is on par with Richard Matheson’s classic “The Box” in both suspense and desperation. The hero of Charles Lambert’s “The Zero Worm” finds his body invaded by a worm that burrows red numerals all over his skin, and a man is driven to madness via his compulsion for perfection in Phil Locascio’s “The Square Root of 2.”

All of these stories mentioned are clever, but none as much as the powerfully enigmatic “Breach of Contract, Clause 6A” by Mark Patrick Lynch. In this increasingly tension-ratcheting puzzler, a man begins a job where he is presented a briefcase each day. Its contents are different and unexplained, and he has to figure out what he’s expected to do with them in an allotted amount of time, in order to be let out.

There are a couple of space-set stories that did nothing for me, but the book makes up for that in being brave elsewhere, such as a foreword rendered entirely in code and the closing “story” – “While We Were Sleeping, Numbers Took over the World” by Tim Nickels with Allen Ashley – that’s among the most experimental your eyes will see, namely because it reads like H.A.L. from 2001 wrote it just to fuck with your head. I like that, Dave. –Rod Lott

Buy it at Shocklines.

Klinger offers ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES bookplates

annotated sherlock holmes reviewLeslie S. Klinger – editor of the BOOKGASM-approved, you-must-have-it two-book set, THE NEW ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES, and its companion volume, THE NEW ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE NOVELS – is offering autographed bookplates to readers who couldn’t make an in-person signing.

Just send an SASE to Klinger at 10866 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1500, Los Angeles, CA 90024. “Please indicate how many you wish and whether you want a personalization,” he noted.

Buy it at Amazon.

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